A Bond Undone is a picaresque adventure novel featuring two young lovers, Guo Jing and Lotus Huang. They travel around China, learning kung fu from the masters, saving people, getting saved. Lotus ran away from her father who is one of the great masters of kung fu. Guo grew up in Mongolia where he developed skills from them and now is developing his skills in kung fu.

There are pirates, kidnappings, grand battles, stories, myths, and all sorts of adventures as they go from place to place, learning more and more. They meet most of the greatest kung fu masters and come away for the better most of the time, though the book ends on quite a cliffhanger that puts that all into question.

If you think of A Bond Undone as a picaresque, where the characters’ adventures are all that matters, then this is a good picaresque. But trying to describe it as a story is hard. It seems aimless other than in developing Guo Jing’s skills. People talk all too much about what they are doing and why they are doing it, like an archvillain at the end of a Bond movie keeping their prey alive long enough to be rescued.

This is the second in a series. I don’t plan on reading the rest, though. I didn’t really care for the vast majority of people. All the great masters are petty grudge holders who will nurse their desire for revenge for decades. A bigger clutch of pettiness would be hard to find.

I think people who love action-adventure stories will enjoy A Bond Undonebecause that is what it is. The characters do not mature in terms of their ethics, self-control, or maturity. They master their martial art without mastering their emotions. What kept my interest through this very long book was the little bit of humor provided by Lotus, a young woman who is sassy to the bone.

I received an ARC of A Bond Undone  from the publisher through Shelf Awareness

A Bond Undone at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan

Jin Yong on Wikipedia